Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The WC and the OP

'Twas the Friday before the World Cup final and all were atwitter. Eventual doom had not yet cast it's mournful glower upon the Dutch, who, having just vaulted into the final, were ecstatic, which our background is supposed to illustrate, failing miserably. Okay, maybe not so miserably. Not with a new found friend cast our WB! way.

Nonetheless, folks, the stir then was palpable. If WB!'s scribbler had any excuse these last weeks, it was, "World Cup, man!" Every night. For weeks. It was glorious.

So there we were, all jittery, even if feigning disinterest, and out popped a sampling of the savoury soul of Ol' Pulteney 12, as a munificent a potable creature as ever to have been imbibed on a marvelous earth that can render such bounty upon us. And what a fantastic bottle! Ready made Captain's lamp, just plug 'n play.

So, what with our blasted attempt to convey the party scene midst-stadt, here is what it was supposed to show WB! readers:

A Glen and Song for Rio

At one point, it seemed apropos. But WB!'s sniveling scrivener has displayed such abject Bartlebyism that WB! fans are surely wondering if the luscious sauce has become a distressing impediment to wretched tale-telling.

Far from it! dear readers. Eno' o' excuses, and on with a terribly belated show, which one should explain, is set in Rio on or about the eve of the World Cup Nederlands/Brasil game. History now, of course, but the important thing was the scotch, as it often is 'mongst this slavering crowd.

And a bountiful and hearty Glendronoch 15 was, lugged hither from the savage reaches of Heathrow by one of Whisky Break!'s MI5 moles. Uh, anyway ...

My, gentle readers, this Glen-baby was a yummy one. Even now, one can still savour the deep mouthful, and a robust, slow and lingering burn.

This is, of course, the crucial test, a test which rum and any other simpering wannabes simply cannot pass. Ha ha!

So, there it was: the then toast to Rio, and Brasil, Nederlanders eventual World Cup victim.

Is that mean?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Fences and Windows*

Greetings, ribald readers of Whisky Break! blog. It's been sometime, but the occasion of the latest Whisky Break! was finally summoned by a core member, sired of Kentucky pastures, who hath borne a strained schedule of late. Our WB! setting was prescribed by the native, apparently because Kentucky is nothing but an astounding maze of fences. We thought to check other possible countrysides but were assured that, no, this was it.

And so it was that the WB! crowd, amidst all those bloody fences, had our collective Scotch blinkers removed, and were introduced the astonishingly lovely world of Woodford Reserve Bourbon, straight outta Kentucky. Woo hoo!

And what a yummy world it is, folks. With alcoholic fumigation starting things off with a sinus-clearing bang, a gorgeous colouring, the Woodford taste is sweet and delicious, if somewhat missing in mouthful. Though initially lacking any notable sternal heat, Whisky Break! relief set in with a late and low incineration, the bourbon proving itself subtly with a clever and deep lag burn. Touche´ Kentucky!

The palette was full this WB!, not only with the Woodford, but a Bushmills 10 continued to linger in the background to many's annoyance (my, my, we are getting spoiled and snotty), while the always welcome Yamazaki from bygone days was polished off amid a raucous and, dare this driveling scrivener suggest, rowdy festival of the end of that week.

And then onto the next, wherein the hypercloud of space-time, who knows what wonders await.

*With apologies to Naomi Klein.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Fond Farewell

A bittersweet moment fell upon the Whisky Break! crowd of late, as a cheerful and cherished colleague, having just graduated, parted professional ways. We wished her the best of moving to new and exciting prospects. She will be missed, of course, but we have insisted upon at least occasional reappearances at Whisky Break! It's world reknown, you know. So, that was the bitter part. For us, at least.

And the sweet part? Well, it was really sweet. As in, shuuuweeeet!

There was no pall upon WB!'ers, as we wed the weakening week to a wiltingly yummy Highland Park 18, a gift to Whisky Break! from a fine and good ally; the kind of yummy that makes one pause, close ones eyes and imagine a realm of fecund possibility.

Yeah. Good stuff.

Egads, gentle readers, m'fears the Whisky Break! risks spoil in the heat of these luscious Highland Park beverages we've enjoyed of late.

Fear spoilage not! as the accompanying Aberlour proved good worth with a growl in throat and a fine, sporty flavour. Once the Highland was a burn of the past, the Aberlour shone her glow and all, once again, was good.

Cheers and good futures!

Perhaps some explanation of this week's WB! environment is in order, for surely it must perplex. Indeed, it may not be entirely clear just what is being celebrated -- by at least one obviously enthusiastic member of the the WB! clan.

That is a picture of the all the crap that currently encircles the planet earth, placed there by humans, purposefully and not. Scads of things, useful and not, occupying orbits described by multifarious parameter sets, most of which are LEO. Well, it seems that our esteemed, departing colleague was alerted this atrocious state of affairs by a recent news story.

So, there it is. That's the picture.

Turns out, it's the best background we've ever used: space junk. Go figure.

[Editor's note: one recognizes that the certain enthusiasm represented in the above photo might be verbally expressed as, "Woo hoo! I am outta here!!!" or possibly, "Woe hoe! Ik ben outtahier!!!"]

Bloemen Seizoen

We tried to set this in the Keukenhof, fresh photos of which were ripe for background in the wan days of tulip season. But, alas, the efforts were for naught. We wound up looking like purple vegetable people. So, we scrapped the project, simplexed the shot -- no marauding eee-lectronic flowers allowed! This humble scribbler was rather partial to the purpley-faced na'er-do-wells depicted thusly.

As this particular Whisky Break! was an impromptu follow-on to prior big-wiggy departmental celebrations, WB!ers were subject to a venue shift. Visitors from afar joined in, looking a tad perplexed by the entire affair. Nonetheless, the gallant Scot amongst us sallied forth with the lovely Lagavulin 16.

Bravo! fine Thane.
All was well again.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Happy Birthday, Scotch! (King James version)

On this day, June 1, 1495:
The Scottish government records it has commissioned Friar Jon Cor to make Scotch whisky — the first mention in print
of the marvelous elixir that Whisky Break!ers covet, "aqua vitae," as it was known back in the day when King of Scots James IV ordered up eight "bolls of malt." Really, who would argue with such an appellation? Not we of Whisky Break!

John Abell of Wired further avers.
Exact references of this momentous occasion are somewhat thin, and the underlying peg for a tech news organization even thinner. But I would say, with some authority, that Scotch and its many delightful cousins are, if not constant companions in this line of work, at least central to the media ecosystem of reward and motivation.

No respectable bar can exist without Scotch — as well as at least a couple of single malts to which ‘twould be blasphemous to add so much as an ice cube. That is so my friend, even though some 90 percent of the world’s Scotch is of the blended variety, and of that, predominantly examples that should be relegated to the rail.
A little "whisky" etymology.
“Whisky,” you see, is derived from the Gaelic “uisge beatha” or “usquebaugh,” which means “water (aqua) of life (vitae).” As I sip my single malt this fine eve, I must admit it does indeed feel essential to life — surely as necessary as water at any rate. And as I approach (approach, mind you, and surely have not crossed) that tipping point of glee and indifference, I can understand how “usque” could easily be slurred into “whisky.”
’tis true all forms of Gaelic are rooted in Middle Irish, but the particular Gaelic relevant to this story is in fact from that branch of Celtic spoken in the Highlands of … Scotland!
This has been a Whisky Break! public service announcement.

Friday, May 7, 2010


Perhaps the finest single malt that Whisky Break! has yet sampled in all of our days: Highland Park 15, slipped o'er tongue with such subtle silk and fullness of mouth that several became faint with admiration and gratitude. The full and lemony flavour strikes one first, and then the always-sought sternal burn would make its presence known. Indeed, it did, but also with a subtlety likely lost on those not keenly attuned to the ways and kinds of thoracic warmth the WB! has come to know and crave.

Well, so as fine a scotch as the Highlander turned out to be (having heard the rumour aplenty), it seemed damn appropriate to send a tip 'o the dram to the 20th anniversary of the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope, an auspicious event if ever there was one.

And so it goes, folks! A salute to HST with a fine Highland Park. Now, we just have to find some salute excuses to test out all the other Highland Park beauties, of which there are several: the 18, 25, 30, and 40 year old varietals, which form the "core expressions" of the Highland Park.

Readers of this humble outlet will note that the WB! like to salute things a lot, because the symbolic act of salute inevitably spells toast!

Fire and Iceland

What with being ground-wise bound, the Whisky Break! crowd was treated to a fine stash of Glen Garioch "Founder's Reserve," which, of course, indicates a grand and special brew that an otherwise 12 year old declarative statement simply could not pull off. With air travel slammed shut, WB! salutes our own fine Scottish agent who, under special auspices granted Whisky Break! agents by the international community -- otherwise by known as "customs" in less self-congratulatory settings -- managed to delivers the goods. And good they were.

Naturally, the crew had to pay offerings to the gods of thunder and fire, which meant a colourful sojourn to Iceland, where we could enjoy a fine thoracic warming brought on by "the Glen" amidst the land of aurora, fire, and ice. Of course, we salute Iceland for its plucky revenge against glowering economic forces of Europe, and, in part, for the clear and uncomplicated demonstration of just how easily modern society can be unwound by primordial natural forces. Always like that.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Turning Japanese

Indeed, Whisky Break! was treated to a turn of the Suntori distillery, the acclaimed Yamazaki single malt! Ahh, feel the burn! Like a radiative hose of Godzilla's own breath!* Many would cringe and shrivel at the prospect, but not the Whisky Break! dear readers, surely not Whisky Break! We are entrusted to hold forth on all manner of sternum burning, and the burning of sterna.

And burn the 'zaki did, dear readers, a long and hotting smolder. Of course, you know we love that. But what you don't know is that, despite the breadth and length of the follow, the flavour of the Yamazaki was somewhat lacking, as Whisky Break! generally agreed that the Yama was missing the mouthful.

Nonetheless, we all enjoyed the dragon's breath from the land of the Sun and scary monsters borne of man's folly.

Cheers, folks! There's Yamazaki to down, and Godzilla to drown. Unless, of course, he's a good Godzilla. In which case, we'll cheer, Godzilla! or possibly, Yamazaki!

* Verily, gentle readers, this miserable scribbler had to work in the picture somehow. But I think we can agree, it all fits together like a seamless garment: Yamazaki, Japan, Whisky, Whisky Break!, Godzilla.

Friday, March 19, 2010

A WB! Whisky Metric: Sternum burn

We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the Ardmore began to take hold.

Some minutes had passed in the sampling of the scrumptious Ardmore Highland malt, when Whisky Breakers, as one, sat back, scanned the scene, and verbally agreed, "yeah, that's got a good burn. Lingering."

This, gentle readers, appears to have become the Whisky Break! metric for whisky tasting satisfaction: sternum burn, and a lingering one at that. Now, we like a good, mouthful of flavour, but the burn is what we seek, what we crave. Verily, the Ardmore doth deliver on that scale. A fine and satisfying brew.

And that's not just Whisky Break! telling you this, gentle readers. See what Dr. Whisky and his crew have to say about it about it:
Wow, big burst of a smoky impact, slightly fishy, more baked sweetness with canned peaches, "mmm... apples." The big impact becomes gentler upon swallowing into shortbread and a bit of vanilla and bubblegum.
Bubblegum and peaches. Hmm, sounds like sophisticated palettes at work there -- and far beyond our ken -- but a tad fey to we here at Whisky Break! where concerns pertain to the sternum, and the burning thereof. That's what we like!


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Unveiled: "oldest single malt whisky in the world"

Oh, dear. How do we get a hold of some of this? That is, without forking over €11000? These questions run deep.
EDINBURGH - A Scottish whisky firm on Thursday unveiled bottles of what it claims is the oldest single malt whisky in the world, having spent the best part of a century inside an oak barrel.

Gordon and MacPhail's Mortlach 70-Year-Old Speyside was sampled at a launch party in Edinburgh Castle, where it was escorted through the doors by pipers and a military escort.

"It matured for 70 years in the cask and that is what makes it the oldest whisky in the world," a spokesperson for Gordon and MacPhail told AFP.

The whisky was filled into its cask on October 15, 1938, by the grandfather of the company's managing directors David and Michael Urquhart.

There will only be 54 full-size bottles priced at 10,000 pounds each ($15,000 U.S., 11,000 euros), with another 162 smaller bottles on sale for 2,000 pounds.

The limited edition malt was matured in a former sherry hogshead cask made from Spanish oak. It has been bottled in a "tear shaped, hand-blown" crystal decanter with a silver stopper.

Whisky taster Charles MacLean described the single malt as "a delicate, fresh, vital, fruity whisky, with unusual attributes of waxiness and smokiness".

"It's the oldest cask of whisky that, in my knowledge, has ever been bottled," he said. "The spirit and the wood have inter-reacted beautifully over this long period of time.

A wan one

Told ya.

Anyway, WB! readers will be advised to learn that, with all the whirlwind, jet-setting to international celebrations over recent weeks, the WB! crowd sat back to relax at home, mostly owing to a dearth of whisky on hand, the apparent governing philosophy now being, have whisky, will travel. The corollary of which would then be, have whisky not, will sit home and sulk.

Fortunately, our Polish crew came to the rescue with an intriguing offer of Polish herbal vodka called Żubrówka, a sharply flavoured liquor also known as Bison grass vodka. Now, this particular alcoholic invention, which uses actual bison grass, was banned in the US by both the FDA and the ATF in 1978, when it was determined by a clueless band of meddling bureaucrats that the "toxic" compound, coumarin, ought not be consumed by Americans. It seems doubtful to Whisky Breakers that coumarin could hardly be more toxic than straight up alcohol, and happily, this blinkered and arbitrary decision all those decades ago has failed to migrate across the pond.

Which means, Bison grass vodka has now been introduced Whisky Break! And we're still not mental!

Though lacking the cherished sternal burn of a smashing single malt, the Żubrówka presented a interesting turn on the tongue. And for the etymologically-inclined, the Polish mix buffalo grass vodka with apple juice and call it tatanka. Now, this is interesting because that also happens to be the exact word for bison in the North American Oglala Lakota language. Note the accompanying image and, please, do not attempt to drink that version of tatanka, which is expected to trigger a gag reflex in some consumers.

Well, with a small sample on tap and running down rapidly, magically, a bottle of the fine Skye-born Talisker 10 went its way to the table, and Whisky Break! moved into to our more familiar domain. The T-10 is long-time WB! fave.

And that was a fine finish to the week that was.